By Robert Sanders
The Huffington Post
Imaginary aliens abound on TV and in the movies while we listen hopefully for radio signals from other intelligent civilizations and fantasize about the bizarre forms of life that might exist on the thousands of newly found exoplanets.
Yet aliens are probably already here, in the form of fluffy, submicroscopic bits of dust from out of this world that were captured 10 years ago by NASA's Stardust spacecraft and parachuted to Earth in 2006.
It took eight years for a large team of scientists led by UC Berkeley physicist Andrew Westphal to locate and study the interstellar dust bits collected by Stardust, with the help of a large cadre of citizen-scientists who volunteered with Stardust@home to scan images of the aerogel collectors in search of tracks made by speeding dust.
Westphal and his colleagues, including over 30,000 "Dusters," announced Thursday, Aug. 14, in the journal Science their discovery of seven dust motes probably from outside our solar system, visitors from a distant star and likely produced less than 100 million years ago, perhaps in an exploding star.
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